German officials said Saturday they were left "dismayed and furious" by the stabbing of two German women at an Egyptian beach resort, calling it a deliberate attack on foreign tourists.

An Egyptian man stabbed the two German tourists to death and wounded four others on Friday at a popular seaside vacation spot on the Red Sea, officials and witnesses said.

"We now have the sad certainty that two German women were killed in the attack in Hurghada," a foreign ministry spokesperson said.


An attacker swam from a nearby public beach to access the Zahabia Hotel, where he killed the two Germans and wounded two others before attacking two more people at the adjacent Sunny Days El Palacio resort in Hurghada, security sources said. (AFP/Getty Images)

"According to what we know, the act was a deliberate attack on foreign tourists — a particularly devious and criminal act that leaves us sad, dismayed and furious," she added.

The attacker swam from a nearby public beach to access the Zahabia Hotel, where he killed the two Germans and wounded two others before attacking two more people at the adjacent Sunny Days El Palacio resort, officials and security sources said.

"He had a knife with him and stabbed each of them three times in the chest. They died on the beach," the security manager at El Palacio hotel, Saud Abdelaziz, told Reuters.

"He jumped a wall between the hotels and swam to the other beach."

Abdelaziz said two of the injured people are Czech and two are Armenian. They were being treated at a local hospital. The Czech foreign ministry tweeted that one Czech woman sustained a minor leg injury.

The German interior ministry said the attacker was arrested, but the motive was still under investigation.

The Zahabia and El Palacio hotels are in Hurghada, one of Egypt's most popular holiday resorts, some 400 kilometres south of the capital Cairo. Each has a private beach.

Egypt is fighting an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, where militants mainly target security forces but have previously attacked tourism targets and have also hit Coptic Christians and churches.

Friday's attack came the same day that five policemen were killed by gunmen on a motorbike who ambushed their car just south of Cairo.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of a militant group known as Hasm that has been behind similar attacks in recent months.

Authorities say Hasm is a splinter faction from the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that was outlawed and declared a terrorist organization several months after the military in July 2013 ousted Mohammed Morsi, a senior leader of the Brotherhood who was elected president in 2012.

Friday's attacks are likely to further impact Egypt's tourism industry — a backbone of the country's economy that employs millions of people but which has been decimated by the political turmoil and fragile security roiling the country since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.


Ambulances are seen in front of the Sunny Days El Palacio resort. (EPA)

The attacker in Hurghada stabbed the tourists in the face, neck and feet, according to security officials. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but it appeared to have been inspired by recent calls by the local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group to attack Egypt's minority Christians and foreign tourists.

On Saturday, tight security was in place at the site of the Hurghada attack.

Egypt has been rocked by deadly suicide bombings, drive-by shootings and other attacks since Morsi's ouster four years ago. The violence has been concentrated in the northern Sinai Peninsula, but attacks have spread to the mainland, including the capital.

The last time tourists were attacked in Hurghada was in January 2016, when two Austrians and a Swede were stabbed by two suspected militants, also at a hotel. They were only lightly wounded. Security forces shot the attackers, killing one and wounding the other before arresting him.

With files from Reuters